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A Guide to Probiotics for Dogs with Diarrhea

Katelyn Son

By

Medically reviewed by

Ivana Crnec,DVM

Diarrhea is a widespread issue in dogs. A study determining the diarrhea incidence found out that 14.9% of dogs showing up for vet appointments have had one or more diarrhea bouts within the last two weeks. In this article, we will talk about dog probiotics for diarrhea. 

Studies show that probiotics can be used to both prevent and treat canine diarrhea. Plus, a high-quality probiotic will bring an array of additional benefits. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about probiotics for dogs with diarrhea. 

Do Probiotics Help with Diarrhea in Dogs?

do probiotics help with diarrhea in dogs

Yes, probiotics can help dogs with diarrhea. Studies show that probiotics can be used to manage diarrhea – decrease its duration and intensity. Other studies demonstrate that preventive use of probiotics before a stressful event can decrease diarrhea incidence. 

Plus, a study evaluating the safety of probiotics in growing puppies concluded that the supplementation is “well tolerated with no safety concerns.” 

In simple words, when it comes to managing canine diarrhea, probiotics are both efficient and safe. Plus, they will contribute with a few other health benefits. 

Benefits of Probiotics for Dog Diarrhea

Probiotics are helpful for both preventing and managing diarrhea. In fact, different strains of good bacteria have different anti-diarrhea properties. 

For example, Bacillus coagulans is best suited for managing “traveler’s” and antibiotic-caused diarrhea, while stress-triggered diarrhea responds quickly to Enterococcus faecium. Dogs with food allergies should be supplemented with Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and dogs with idiopathic canine diarrhea need Bifidobacterium animalis. The excellent yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii, is indicated in dogs with bacterial imbalance due to chronic enteropathies and with antibiotics and Clostridium difficile-triggered diarrhea. 

The staple good bacteria for diarrhea management in dogs is Lactobacillus acidophilus which can be used in various combinations. Lately, there is much interest in Pediococcus acidilactici because when used in conjunction with other probiotics, it significantly shortens the recovery time in dogs with digestive issues. 

Last but not least, probiotics help with more than digestive tract issues and diarrhea. Namely, when managing your dog’s stool quality with probiotics, your dog gets to enjoy the additional positive side effects such as a stronger immune system, enhanced mood, better oral health, and fresher breath. 

What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?

According to the VCA Animal Hospital site, diarrhea can be defined as “unformed or loose stools, usually occurring in larger amounts and/or more often.” The site clearly states that diarrhea is not a disease on its own – it is a symptom that develops due to an underlying issue. 

Diarrhea in dogs can be triggered by an array of health conditions. For simpler understanding, we will classify the triggers into three large groups:

  • Food-related diarrhea
    • Dietary indiscretions
    • Sudden diet changes
    • Food allergies 
  • Diarrhea due to gut infections
    • Bacterial gut infections (Salmonella)
    • Intestinal worms and protozoa
    • Viral infections (Parvovirus)
  • Other causes of diarrhea 
    • Stress and anxiety 
    • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis 
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
    • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
    • Gastrointestinal blockage
    • Drug-triggered diarrhea (NSAIDs)

Dog Diarrhea Signs & Symptoms

Once again, as a quick reminder – diarrhea itself is a symptom, and it can be indicative of a transient and benign digestive upset or a severe and potentially fatal disease. 

Therefore, the most important diarrhea signs and symptoms are, in fact, the diarrhea features – quantity, frequency, consistency, color (red, yellow, white, green, black), and the potential presence of blood, mucus, or both. 

A dog with diarrhea may act normal or show additional signs and symptoms. In most cases, the diarrhea episode is accompanied by:

  • Vomiting 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Bloating 
  • Gassiness
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Dehydration 
  • Lethargy. 

Knowing the exact clinical manifestation is critical for determining the potential diagnoses and tests. Therefore, try to gather as much information as possible before calling the veterinarian. 

For example, a dog that, despite the diarrhea, is normal will likely overcome the episode without special treatments. On the other hand, a dog exhibiting more than just diarrhea requires extensive diagnostic tests and an individually tailored treatment plan. 

How Long does it Take for Probiotics to Work in Dogs with Diarrhea?

The time the probiotic needs to start working in dogs with diarrhea depends on several factors, including the diarrhea trigger and the probiotic quality. 

For example, if the diarrhea is caused by stress or a sudden diet change, the effects of the probiotic are likely to kick in after one or two uses. On the other hand, if the diarrhea bout stems from inflammatory bowel disease, it will need more time before it is managed. 

The probiotic type and features matter too. Namely, Purina FortiFlora (main ingredients animal digest and Enterococcus faecium) is efficient from the first sprinkle, while other products may require few uses before yielding visible improvements in the stool quality. 

Bottom line, probiotics are not miracle cures, and it would be irrational to expect immediate results – give them between one and three uses, and if your dog’s diarrhea does not seem to respond, call the vet and ask for another probiotic product or treatment plan. 

Using Probiotics for Your Dog’s Diarrhea Treatment

Using Probiotics for Your Dog's Diarrhea Treatment

Probiotics are a great addition to any diarrhea management plan – they are natural, safe, and efficient. And more importantly, they can be used in conjunction with other anti-diarrhea approaches and medications. 

Bland Diet for Dog Diarrhea. A good place to start with your dog’s diarrhea is a bland diet. The bland diet consists of plain boiled chicken meat and white rice. Instead of chicken, you can use lean hamburger or turkey meat. A dog with diarrhea should be offered frequent but small-sized bland diet portions.  

Canned Pumpkin for Dog Diarrhea. Canned pumpkin does wonders when it comes to loose stool management in dogs. Just add between ½ and four tablespoons of canned pumpkin into your dog’s food. Also, make sure you use plain canned pumpkin versions (free from spiced and artificial sweeteners). 

Pepto Bismol for Dog Diarrhea. Pepto Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) is an OTC human-grade stomach soother. In vet medicine, it is used “off-label” and considered a first-aid for managing loose stools and diarrhea. Available in two forms (liquid and tablets), Pepto Bismol is a fast-acting med and can yield improvement in as little as 24 hours. 

Vets Preferred Advanced Anti-Diarrhea for Dogs. The fast acting absorbent action helps alleviate the irritation, discomfort, and cramping associated with dog diarrhea within 2-3 days and doesn’t require a prescription. 

Antibiotics for Dog Diarrhea. Antibiotics are necessary when the diarrhea bout is triggered by an infectious agent, usually pathogenic bacteria. However, the decision to use antibiotics is something you should discuss with your trusted veterinarian. Plus, antibiotics are prescription medications, meaning a vet consult is warranted. 

How to Choose the Best Probiotic for Dog Diarrhea

Choosing the best probiotic for dog diarrhea can be tricky – the labels are often inaccurate, and the claims are exaggerated. Therefore, you can quickly end up with a substandard probiotic supplement that can do more harm than good. 

To avoid a bad scenario and make the probiotic shopping experience pleasant and successful, we have compiled a checklist with the things you need to consider when choosing the best probiotic for dog diarrhea. 

Different Bacteria Strains. Single-strain probiotics can be helpful to target specific conditions. Still, when it comes to diarrhea management, you need a probiotic with various strains of good bacteria, including Bifidobacterium animalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus coagulans, and Lactobacillus acidophilus. This is because different bacteria help with different types of diarrhea. 

Colony Forming Units (CFU). Measures the number of good bacteria found in the probiotic and is expressed in millions or billions of live cultures per gram. The general rule of the thumb is that need between 1 and 4 billion CFUs per day. However, dogs with specific forms of diarrhea may benefit from a probiotic with more than 4 billion CFUs. 

Additional Health-Boosting Ingredients. The more synergistic ingredients added to the probiotic formula, the better. For example, to thrive and support the dog’s gut, probiotics need prebiotics. Therefore, many probiotic products include prebiotics. Some even add vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, and antioxidants. 

No Fillers, Allergens, and GMOs. Same as with dog food, certain ingredients should not be found on a probiotic’s ingredient list. Common examples include cheap fillers like corn, wheat, grain; potential allergens like soy, gluten, dairy; and GMO ingredients. In the short run, such components can worsen your dog’s diarrhea and, in the long run, may trigger more severe health issues. 

Dog-Friendly Form and Flavor. Pet probiotics are available in different forms, including liquids, powders, capsules, and probiotic chews or treats. To ensure easy use, manufacturers include natural and dog-friendly flavors like chicken, beef, fish, or peanut butter. There are no rules to which combination is best – choose what you and your dog like most. 

The Probiotic Manufacturer. Before purchasing a probiotic supplement, make sure you check the brand. A reputable and trustworthy brand will be transparent about the ingredients and manufacturing practices it uses. Also, it will display reviews provided by other customers and, if confident in the quality of its products, offer a money-back guarantee. 

Keep in mind that certain human foods are natural probiotics and can be used for dogs. The most popular examples are Greek yogurt and traditional kefir. 

Finally, we should note that commercially available human probiotics should not be given to dogs because:

  • The good bacteria in probiotics are species-specific and will not work 
  • They feature more live cultures than dogs need and can handle 
  • Often include ingredients that are bad or toxic to dogs (artificial sweeteners)

What is the Best Probiotic for Dogs with Diarrhea?

To make things simpler for you and more beneficial for your dog, we have chosen a probiotic that checks all boxes for safety, quality, and efficacy. 

The best dog probiotics for diarrhea is the Honest Paws Pre + Probiotic Supplement for pets. But, you do not have to take our word for it – the ingredients speak for themselves. Let’s have a quick look:

  • Inulin – derived from chicory root, to transforms into short-chain fatty acids that nourish cells, help with digestion health, and have various other health benefits. 
  • Solarplast® – spinach leaf extract that optimizes the body’s processes through cellular restoration and repair and supports healthy aging.  
  • DE111® – DE111® is a Bacillus subtilis strain that promotes digestive and immune health and helps maintain healthy gut flora.
  • Bacillus coagulans – helps support proper digestion and bowel health and protects the intestinal lining from infections and inflammations. 
  • Bifidobacterium animalis lactis – has strong anti-inflammatory properties and helps dogs recover from prolonged uses of antibiotics and other medications. 
  • Bifidobacterium longum – helps maintain a healthy GI tract and keeps the gut microbiome in balance. 
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – soothes the GI tract, increases the absorption of nutrients, and relieves skin issues and irritations. 
  • Lactobacillus plantarum – improves the function of the gastrointestinal system. supports liver health, and manages various forms of diarrhea. 

Plus, the Honest Paws supplement features a natural roasted chicken flavor and is pre-measured in individual sachets. Each sachet contains 5 billion CFUs, and there are 30 sachets per packet – meaning one purchase will have your dog’s needs covered for an entire month. 

Our Final Thoughts on Probiotics for Dogs with Diarrhea

Probiotics for Dogs with Diarrhea

Canine diarrhea, although widespread, is relatively easy to prevent. This is because most diarrhea cases stem from dietary indiscretions and sudden food changes. 

In other words, preventable scenarios that can be addressed with proper nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices, and a high-quality probiotic supplement.

Sources:

(PDF) Safety and Tolerance of Dietary Supplementation With a Canine-Derived Probiotic (Bifidobacterium animalis Strain AHC7) Fed to Growing Dogs (researchgate.net)

[PDF] Clinical benefits of probiotic canine-derived Bifidobacterium animalis strain AHC7 in dogs with acute idiopathic diarrhea. | Semantic Scholar

[PDF] EFFICACY OF SACCHAROMYCES BOULARDII AS A PROBIOTIC IN DOGS WITH LINCOMYCIN INDUCED DIARRHOEA | Semantic Scholar

A canine-specific probiotic product in treating acute or intermittent diarrhea in dogs: A double-blind placebo-controlled efficacy study – ScienceDirect

Clinical effect of probiotics in prevention or treatment of gastrointestinal disease in dogs: A systematic review (nih.gov)

Effect of the Probiotic Enterococcus faecium SF68 on Presence of Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs Housed in an Animal Shelter | Request PDF (researchgate.net)

Efficacy of a Probiotic‐Prebiotic Supplement on Incidence of Diarrhea in a Dog Shelter: A Randomized, Double‐Blind, Placebo‐Controlled Trial – Rose – 2017 – Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine – Wiley Online Library

Enterococcus faecium for dogs and cats (nutravet.co.uk)

Evaluation of graded levels of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 on apparent nutrient digestibility, stool quality, and intestinal health indicators in healthy adult dogs | Journal of Animal Science | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

Preliminary evaluation of Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG, a potential probiotic in dogs (nih.gov)

Probiotics for the treatment of Clostridium difficile associated disease (nih.gov)

Risk of vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs – PubMed (nih.gov)

Saccharomyces boulardii Probiotic for Pets (White Paper) – FullBucket Health

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